Defense main focus with core group
The Madras White Buffalos basketball program has a new coach, Nick Brown, the son of longtime and former head coach Evan Brown.
Last season, the Buffs finished with a 10-14 overall record, 5-5 in Tri-Valley League play. Madras finished third in the Tri-Valley and just missed the postseason, ranked No. 24 in 4A.
"I am really excited about the team we have, not only with our returners, but our younger guys coming up as well," Nick Brown said. "I think we have a bright future ahead of us and it all starts this year. We have a good group of four returning seniors, but we have some other sophomores and juniors to build around those guys. We have a pretty good mix of guards, wings and post players as well."
This season, all three coaches for Madras — varsity, junior varsity and freshmen — are new and are excited about the upcoming season, with Brown leading the way.
Madras has its first game at home against Hidden Valley at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.
"We just want to get better all-around, whether it is on the defensive side of things, offensive side of things, or just trying to play together, getting better at that team chemistry aspect," Brown said. "Some of these guys have played with each other in the past and some haven't."
"With our system looking a little different this year, it will be a bit of adjustment and learning curve with that system," he said. "The quicker we can get in the gym the better because it is going to take time for us to get better and better."
The White Buffalos lost first-team player Byron Patt due to graduation, but still have Dapri Miller and Donnie Bagley returning for their senior seasons.
"We have really good team chemistry and that is something not all the teams will have this year," Miller said. "We know how each other work. We can become a really good team if we just put our heads to it, push ourselves and listen to what the coach says. The team needs to be on the same page and want it."
Miller isn't too worried about the coaching change for his senior year and is ready to help lead the team with the new coach.
"I think things are good knowing that we have someone that has been in the program for a while and knows how we play," Miller. "I think the transition won't be the same, but won't be that different either. We will get the hang of it. I think we will be just fine."
Miller earned second-team honors last season, averaging 10.8 points per game, and making 38 3-pointers. Bagley is coming off an honorable mention season, averaging 10.7 points per game, and making 47 3-pointers. Miller and Bagley will look to lead to Buffalos this season.
"We don't have as many seniors as in the past, but we have great leadership," said Miller. "Myself and teammates have experience already. The leadership part will play a big role because we are a young team still. All we need to do is have that leadership and push each other to do the right things on and off the court."
With only four seniors, leadership of upperclassmen and roles of younger athletes will be a factor this season.
"We have a good number of guys that can fill their role," said Brown. "We have a couple guys that can really put the ball in the hole in Dapri and Donnie. We also have guys that get after it on the defensive side, with guys like Jordan (Mitchell), Derrek (Main) and Dylan (Heath)."
With Patt and several other seniors graduating, Brown and the team know how important it is for some younger players to fill key roles.
"A lot of our sophomores will be swinging to start the season as they continue to develop," Brown said. "As they start to get more playing time as the season goes on, those sophomores — Mason (Strong), Aaron (Culps) and Douglas (Isaiah Cochran) will really be able to step in and help. Jacob Hulsey is giving us a big body that hasn't really played basketball the last couple years, so that was a pleasant surprise."
With a new coach and new team, coach Brown has high expectations for the young athletes.
"Our expectation, which we have had pretty much every year, is to make a playoff run, whether that is finishing in the top of our league and being able to make that play-in, playoff and round of 16, and this year is not different. We really believe this group of boys can get there."
Madras ran their very fast pace up-and-down, 3-point heavy style of play, subbing five in and five out constantly under coach Evan Brown. That gave several players experience, but this year, the offense will change and a big focus will be on the defense.
"It is all going to start off the defensive side for us," said Brown. "We are going to have to grind out some games, beat people defensively, grind down other teams' offenses, and if we can do that, we will be a pretty tough team to beat. We are going to have to show our toughness on the defensive end, and everything else will follow from there."
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